Sure, you can fly across the Atlantic: thousands do every day. But to cross it and arrive relaxed, refreshed and totally charmed, there’s only one way to do it: on board Cunard’s legendary Queen Mary 2.
The crossing takes seven days from New York to Southampton, and if the passengers on a June crossing this year were anything to go by, folks book the QM2 for all sorts of reasons. ilovecruising was on board to give you the inside scoop.
Not surprisingly, many passengers are bucket-listers. Others are celebrating a special event or anniversary, while a smattering admit they are afraid to fly. What’s worth noting is how many are repeat passengers who have clearly realized that the serenity, the excellent food, service and the lovely array of activities are so much nicer than the stress of flying. Not surprisingly there aren’t a ton of millennials on board: not their scene.
There’s also a mix of nationalities, with Britons and Americans dominating but with a nice smattering of Canadians, Aussies, French and more. The language on board is English, with US$ prices quoted in the shops and bars.
And yes, there are the charmingly old-fashioned entertainments such as formal afternoon tea, ballroom dancing lessons, bridge games and passenger choir rehearsal and performance – even a well-attended talent show.
But there was also a ton of really interesting activities, including guest lectures (the New Yorker cartoonist was hilarious), the magical planetarium (the only one at sea), a 10,000 book library to peruse, and gatherings for LGBT, AA members and solo passengers. Trivia games were hotly contested with much hilarity from teams who assembled on the fly, including on this crossing the Roamin’ Catholics, who had met at the daily Christian fellowship gathering.
On the sports side options include putting competitions, quoits (a sort of shuffleboard), invigorating walks around the deck, and a pool. No rock-climbing walls or bungie jumping on the QM2.
Come evening you have your choice of the main show – usually singing/dancing – the small casino, a choice of movies in-cabin or a quiet nightcap in a choice of bars including the champagne bar or elegant Commodore Bar. There’s also an English pub, boasting first-rate authentic pub grub.
A couple of useful tips:
- The embarkation process in Brooklyn is not pretty as thousands of passengers and their luggage shuffle through the huge terminal. Pack your patience and don’t be afraid to keep asking if you are in the right line-up (one British couple lined up for an hour to learn that they were queuing for a taxi back into New York!)
- There is WiFi, but it starts at US$47.95 for 120 minutes. Access is faster in the public areas.
- The time change is handled in a very civilized manner: Every day at noon you are asked to move your watches/devices ahead one hour, so when you dock in Southampton you are on local time.
- If you plan to extend your vacation in England or Europe but don’t want to shlep your sparkly duds with you, Cunard can ship a suitcase home from Southampton, for a fee.
Above all be prepared for a time of disconnecting from the world. Surrounded by the endless ocean, you have to surrender to the gentle speed of the ship, the sense that you are travelling in a luxurious bubble where there are no goals for today, no pressure, no stress. When does life get any better?
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